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England, late 18th century.
Physical Description:
1 zograscope : mahogany, glass, mirror ; 64 cm in height, base 21 cm in diameter
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Folio B (8vo Room)
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Related Content:
View catalog record A View of Vauxhall Gardens, a print housed with the zograscope
View catalog records Samuel Wise's Six perspective designs for the concave mirrour
Three-Dimensional Artifacts
"These table-top viewers consist of a wooden stand supporting a hinged mirror and lens, used to view a flat image placed on the table next to the stand. A perspective effect is created through a combination of image design and lens and mirror properties."--Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online. The device is also commonly referred to as a diagonal mirror, optical diagonal machine, or optical pillar machine.
"The essential component of a zograscope is a convex lens at least three inches in diameter, with a focal distance of about an arm's length. The lens refracts the light rays coming from each point on the print being viewed so that rather than seeming to originate on the surface of the paper, they arrive at the eyes almost parallel to each other, as if originating from a much greater distance . Spherical aberration around the edges of the lens and juxtaposed patches of bright color on the print itself further disrupt normal depth cues. These disruptions combine to create the perception of three-dimensional picture space known as steropsis ..."--Erin C. Blake, "Zograscopes, virtual reality, and the mapping of polite society in eighteenth-century England," in New Media 1740-1915, edited by Lisa Gitelman and Geoffrey B. Pingree, 1-29. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003.
For additional information on zograscopes, see also: J.A. Chaldecott, "The zograscope or optical diagonal machine," in Annals of Science, 9:4 (1953), 315-322. -- C. J. Kaldenbach, "Perspective Views," Print Quarterly 2 (1985): 86-104, a version of which is available online: http://kalden.home.xs4all.nl/auth/perspectiveviews.htm.
See also: Bowles & Carver's new and enlarged catalogue, of accurate and useful maps, plans, and prints. [London, 1795]. Page 78: "Perspective views of shipping, views of the cities of London and Westminster, and of the most eminent churches, buildings, squares, &c. ... the whole designed for viewing with surprising beauty and effect, in the diagonal mirror, or optical pillar machine [i.e., zograscope], consisting of 271 English and foreign views. Each printed on a half-sheet of fine paper ... Diagonal mirrors, neatly fitted up in mahogany, with looking-glass, &c. One guinea each." (Yale Center for British Art, Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts, GA103 B6).
Restricted fragile material. Use requires permission of the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Zograscope by an unidentified manufacturer, presumably of English origin. The viewer consists of a mahogany stand (in two pieces) on a circular base, supporting a hinged mirror and lens.
Accompanied by a perspective print designed to be viewed with a zograscope (A view of Vaux Hall Gardens ...). See: Department of Prints and Drawings, B1997.14.18700. The following prints in the Department of Prints and Drawings may also be viewed with the zograscope: Samuel Wise's Six perspective designs for the concave mirrour (B1978.43.1105-1110); Vue perspective du marche aux fleurs a Londres (B1977.14.15819); Fair scene (B1977.14.18332); The inside of the elegant music room in Vauxhall gardens (B1977.14.18708).
Optical instruments.
Wale, Samuel, -1786. Six perspective designs for the concave mirrour.

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